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Favorite Four - Apps For The Toolbox

Posted by Chris Hall on September 29th, 2010

There are those who buy the iPhone for silly games, and then there are those who buy the iPhone for manly purposes like measuring tables and making sure shelves are made level. While you were putzing around playing Doodle Jump and Pocket God, these people were flicking their digital Zippo lighters in peoples faces, just because they could. They chugged beer after beer whenever anyone walked by and whipped everyone who wasn't working at their Mountain Dew pace.

These toolbox apps for for the tough guys out there, and maybe for a few of the guys like me who have to hang a picture every once in a while. Here's to you, tough guys.

Ruler 2 - Sure, the average guy that needs a measurement probably has a ruler of some sort laying around, but if you don't, save a tree and buy Ruler 2. With Ruler 2 you can measure an object 2 15/16th of an inch at a time, as long as you make sure to mark where the end of the screen touches. With it, you can measure the smallest of objects, or your whole car if you have a good deal of time.

The app also instantly converts inches to centimeters with a touch, so you'll never have to try to do the crazy conversion in your head. Nobody wants to have to multiply things my 2.54... it's just too much work.

iHandy Carpenter/ iHandy Level - Unlike the ruler, there just aren't that many people out there that have levels. The master of all tools, the level makes sure that all of your pictures are hung straight on the wall. All you have to do with the app is calibrate it on something that is level, and then just hold it up. The app will then detect any angle at which the phone might be at with a visual level bubble, just like if you were using the real thing.

If you want to get really handy, you can move on from the free level to the iHandy Carpenter. This app has a level, a surface level, a protractor, a ruler, and a plumb bob. Just make sure that you have a big budget for supplies because you may want to go on and build a house.

Flashlight + - Probably the most consistently useful app on the list, Flashlight + uses the LED flash on the iPhone camera to act as a flashlight. It's just as bright as any flashlight you might own, and it never needs AAA batteries.

The competition in the App Store is steep for flashlight apps, but Flashlight + has a UI that is as slick as any app that is built into your phone. Just for kicks, it also has a strobe light that will work great for Halloween.

DAH-Measure - While most of the objects that you will have to measure will be small enough to use the either of the ruler apps, DAH-Measure is the only one that is handy enough to measure something like a tree. Using the iPhone's camera as a guide, DAH-Measure can roughly measure the length or height of something with a few fancy equations.

Just a warning, because the app does everything by sight, it's not always on the money with the exact measurement. You'll be surprised though how close it actually gets.

DAH-Measure - Your Invisible Ruler

Posted by Chris Hall on September 23rd, 2010

There have been a few apps that I've picked up that claim to be able to judge the distance from one object to the next, all of which have produced questionable results. The one that I liked the best was Sonar Ruler, but it wasn't very practical to use, and became more of a cool "look what my iPhone can do" app than anything.

DAH-Measure takes the measuring app one step further by measuring distance, angle, and height, all in the same app. The developers don't divulge how they calculate the distance, they just say that Measurements are taken using iPhone's camera, sensors and mathematical equations." Their goal was to make a more practical app that wouldn't have a bunch of bells and whistles bogging it down. It was built to work, and it does fairly well.

After fidgeting with the settings, I got to where the measurement tool worked fairly well, only coming 2 ft. off the actual distance (which was 18 ft.). Height was a bit trickier, with one example coming within a foot or two of the actual target and one not coming very close at all.

One word of warning, in the settings screen you have to determine how high your camera is off the ground. Because I am an American, I switched the setting to imperial, as I like ft. better than meters. Anyways, if you use an accurate distance for "camera height from the ground" (i.e. 35-50 in.), the resulting measurements will come up pretty short. I got a more accurate distance saying that my camera was something closer to 150 in (over 12 ft.!) off the ground, obviously a crazy number. I don't know if this is a glitch or just happened to work in my circumstance, I'm just throwing it out there.

The developers did put out a disclaimer saying that the measurements are more approximate than anything, but once you get the settings right, the results are pretty nifty.